British Columbia

Temperatures — and risk of early-season wildfires — to spike in B.C. this weekend

Three open-burn bans are already in place across the north and much of central B.C., where both fire-danger ratings and fears are high due to dry conditions.

B.C. is forecast to be 6-12 C warmer than normal in the next few days

A Category 2 fire ban has been put in place in the Prince George area because there have already been 35 human-caused fires. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

With temperatures set to top 30 C in many spots across the province this weekend, wildfire prevention workers are on edge as they eye the tinder-dry forest floor.

Three open-burn bans are already in place in the Northwest, Prince George and Cariboo fire centres — spanning the north and much of central B.C. — where both fire-danger ratings and fears are high due to dry conditions.

"It has been a couple of doozy seasons but we are taking all the right measures," said B.C. Wildfire Service spokesperson Molly Blower.

So far there are no early campfire bans, nor plans to implement them.

But Blower said a Category 2 fire ban has been put in place in the Prince George Fire Centre because there have already been 35 human-caused fires in the area, which covers the northeast of the province.

The ban prohibits slash burning, open fires and the use of fireworks and other incendiary devices.

The 2018 wildfire season was the most destructive on record in British Columbia. (@CONAFOR/Twitter)

Environment Canada is warning that temperatures across B.C. are forecast to be 6-12 C higher than normal this weekend, climbing upwards of 30 C in parts of the Southern Interior including Kamloops, Kelowna and the Boundary region.

This heat, coupled with pre-existing dry conditions, also has officials wary of thunderstorms.

Three regions already have bans on open fires as a precaution due to hot, dry weather forecast, says the B.C. Wildfire Service. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Environment Canada meteorologist Ross MacDonald says that as the high-pressure ridge that's driving the warm temperatures collapses by Sunday, there may be some storms in northern B.C. — but there's not a high-risk forecast at this point.

MacDonald predicts daily temperature records will be met or broken in many places as the warmest wave of weather so far this year hits the province.

"We will be flirting with, if not breaking some daily temperature records," he said.

It's not abnormal to have grass fires in the spring or early summer in the Interior and northern regions, but the drier-than-usual conditions have fire officials urging people to take extra caution.

They stress that any campfires must be lit only when there is a fire guard around it, and that hand tools and at least eight litres of water should be on hand to extinguish the flames.

Canadian Forest Service fire specialist Chelene Hanes told CBC that while spring fires are a concern, it is important to remember people have more power to prevent an early fire season.

"The primary ignition source in the spring is humans," she said.

"So people need to be vigilant when they are hiking so they don't provide some source of ignition. They just have to be really careful."


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